The SDSU Natural Resources Management Department and SDSU Extension would like to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and remind everyone that if you are shopping for a late holiday gift, consider giving the gift of conservation to yourself or someone else.
How does one give the gift of conservation? Fortunately, here in South Dakota we have an excellent variety of private and government organizations dedicated to ensuring the future quality of our land, water, and wildlife through sound resource management.
Education & Information
Many federal, state, and local land management agencies have increased their awareness campaigns over recent years in an attempt to reach out to all South Dakotan’s. The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks (SDGFP) has perhaps made the greatest strides in becoming more accessible to the average citizen through their website. Here one can view hunting and fishing information, interactive maps, outdoors learning options, management plans, and upcoming meetings and learning events. South Dakota GFP also publishes their semi-regular “Landowners Matter” newsletter specifically tailored to South Dakota landowners who are so important to South Dakota’s wildlife legacy. Finally, SDGFP has recently added Habitat Pays as a product of the 2013 Pheasant Summit that identified critical habitat issues facing our state. Habitat Pays is a great resource for landowners and the public to learn more about how they can positively impact South Dakota conservation.
Perhaps the greatest conservation gift one can give is the gift of a membership to a conservation organization. Many national non-government wildlife and habitat organizations have chapters here in South Dakota*. Some of the more popular habitat and game-focused organizations include The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Pro Pheasants, Whitetails Unlimited, Wild Turkey Federation, and the Mule Deer Foundation. Other organizations that focus on non-game species or regional habitat issues include the National Audubon Society, the Izaak Walton League, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, the National Wildlife Federation and others. In addition, there are many state-level or local organizations that are involved in the promotion and wise use of South Dakota’s resources such as South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association and the South Dakota Grassland Coalition, both primary sponsors of the South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award, along with many others. All of the organizations listed here, and many others not listed, offer memberships and opportunities for members to become involved and to serve on various boards or committees.
A great option for parents, teachers, coaches and other mentors is to expose young South Dakotan’s to our natural heritage through the gift of a membership or through the example of active participation in a conservation organization. Volunteerism has always been at the heart of America’s conservation model, and exposing young people to the opportunity to volunteer on service projects for the benefit of wildlife is a great way to introduce them to the ‘full circle’ of our hunting, fishing, and conservation heritage. From the simple purchase of a box of ammunition to the harvesting of a pheasant or duck, young people will benefit from understanding how their dollar impacts the ability to conserve natural resources and to pass that heritage on to the next generation.
Simply providing youth the opportunity to participate in outdoor-based conservation activities is important to their development as well-rounded citizens of South Dakota. Whether participating in 4-H shooting sports, attending events and classes at SDGFP’s Outdoor Campuses, or taking part in a youth hunt, our young people can benefit greatly from the gift of time and talent offered by the volunteers who make these events possible.
So this Christmas, consider how you can give the gift of conservation to someone else. Simply purchasing a bird feeder for a kid to hang in a visible area can spark a lifetime of interest in conservation for the whole family!